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Braves pitching continues to thrive
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Braves vs. Phillies

When: 3 p.m. today

Where: Philadelphia

Pitchers: Atlanta, Javier Vazquez; Phillies, Joe Blanton

TV, radio: SportSouth (Charter channel 36); 550-AM, 94.9-FM

Tickets:, 404-577-9100

Web site:

PHILADELPHIA — Two games in, these Philadelphia Phillies are playing like last year’s team.

Jair Jurrjens and four relievers combined on a six-hitter, Kelly Johnson and Chipper Jones hit solo homers and the Atlanta Braves beat the defending World Series champions 4-0 on Tuesday night.

The Phillies are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth straight year. They’ll receive their 2008 championship rings Wednesday before trying to avoid a three-game sweep.

“You always want to get off to a good start, but you can’t repeat until you play 162 games,” losing pitcher Jamie Moyer said.
Jurrjens (1-0) beat a guy twice his age. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up four hits and walked three in 5 2-3 impressive innings.

Jeff Bennett gave up a single to the only batter he faced before Eric O’Flaherty got the next four outs. Rafael Soriano pitched the eighth and Mike Gonzalez finished.

“We had excellent pitching,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “J.J. was really good. When he got in trouble, he pitched out of it.”

Moyer (0-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. The 46-year-old lefty led the Phillies with 16 wins and had a 3.71 ERA last season, earning a $13 million, two-year contract despite his age.

Atlanta defeated Philadelphia 4-1 in the major league opener Sunday night behind Derek Lowe’s masterful pitching and three homers off Brett Myers.

The Phillies’ potent offense couldn’t do much against Jurrjens or Atlanta’s bullpen. Philadelphia left two runners on four times and stranded 11 in all. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each had two hits.

“We were swinging better,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We were on him. We just missed a few pitches. The wind held a couple balls up. We couldn’t get a two-out hit. If we stay with it, we’ll be OK. We’re going to hit.”

Johnson hit Moyer’s first pitch into the seats in right for his fourth career leadoff homer. One batter later, Jones doubled off the wall in center. Brian McCann followed with a grounder that skipped under second baseman Utley’s glove for an error, allowing Jones to score.

“I was ready to swing as soon as I went up there,” Johnson said. “You’re trying to get a strike on your first pitch of the year so I was ready.”

The Braves added a run in the fourth on Johnson’s infield single with two outs. But Moyer escaped further damage when left fielder Raul Ibanez nailed Casey Kotchman at home on a perfect, no-hop throw to catcher Carlos Ruiz.

Jones led off the fifth with a liner to the seats in left for a 4-0 lead.

The Phillies had two runners on with two outs in the sixth, but O’Flaherty retired pinch-hitter Matt Stairs on a deep fly to center.
“You take the positive of getting guys on,” Howard said. “We just have to take our time, stay loose and get those runners in.”

Chan Ho Park, who won the fifth starter’s job in spring training, pitched a scoreless sixth in relief of Moyer. Park is scheduled to start at Colorado on Sunday.

It was 45 degrees when the game started, so fans were bundled in heavy coats, hats, gloves and scarves. Some didn’t show up, even though the game was sold out.

Notes: Manuel juggled his lineup so three left-handed batters wouldn’t bat 3-4-5. Jayson Werth dropped down from No. 2 to the fifth spot, Ibanez went from fifth to sixth and Shane Victorino moved up to the second spot. ... The Phillies were 14-4 against the Braves last season. ... RHP Javier Vazquez makes his Braves debut in the series finale against RHP Joe Blanton. ... Atlanta swept the Phillies in a three-game series on the road to start the 2007 season. ... Jurrjens went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA as a rookie last year.

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